Juju sat in one of the aqua-vinyl kitchen chairs as her mother combed her hair back into one pony-tail. Juju’s mother with a brush was not so much a grooming event, it was an assault. By the time the kid got up on her feet her face looked like Joan Rivers after a visit to her doctor. My forehead hurts!! Juju wailed. “it will loosen up in an hour or two,” her mother responded. Juju was wearing a matching tank top and culotte set, blue.
She was instructed to go outside and to STAY CLEAN until the family was to leave in less than an hour for her grandmother’s house. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in May.
Juju exited the house and could hear her older sister, Junene playing in the backyard with the neighbor boys. Juju ran fast around the side of the house, she was sure they were playing croquet and was anxious to join in with the older kids. As she made the last corner to the backyard she was hit with a large spray of water…Junene soaked her from head to toe and then stood there laughing with the green garden hose in her hand. All the kids laughed at Juju’s expense….her hair stayed exactly in place.
Mother just told me to stay clean Junene!! “You are clean, wet….but clean!” was the retort and the laughter continued. Thinking she had an hour to dry off in the Texas sun, Juju walked over to her back porch and the croquet set. Randall, a kid from across the street had a mallet and one yellow ball in his hands. Juju grabbed a mallet and the blue ball, to match her outfit, of course. Junene had turned the water off and was now placing the croquet hoops around the yard for a match.
Randall, a rotten kid that had once spray painted obscenities on Juju’s front drive, began to throw the yellow croquet ball high up into the sky, again ..and again. The teams were going to be girls against the boys…Juju stood there dripping but happy to be included. Then it happened…and without much warning. “Hey Juju….catch this!!” Randall yelled.
Juju turned in time to see the yellow croquet ball whistling towards her forehead. The ball struck the right upper corner with a mighty thud….falling to Juju’s feet. She stood there shocked and looked down at her white Keds as trickles of blood began to splatter! Junene screamed and ran toward her….taking her by the left elbow and racing back around the house to the front door!
Juju had been out of the house for approximately 7 minutes…..she had left a clean, dry kid, starched and creased with the tightest pony-tail in Fort Worth. The door flew open and her mother now had quite the opposite standing before her. Her two youngest kids were standing at the door, wet and a gory mess….blood was pulsing out of the cut on Juju’s head with the rhythm of her heartbeat! “To the car!!” yelled Juju’s mother Jewel.
Junene and Juju were numbers 6 and 7…at this point their mother didn’t get upset unless they had a limb missing. Jewel came ambling out of the house, her own hair in curlers with a white shirt on that belonged to Juju’s dad and a pair of blue jean peddle pushers….no shoes. Jewel rarely wore shoes around the house, but being shoe-less driving was the one sign that there was an emergency at hand. Jewel threw a towel in the backseat of the car and yelled at Junene to hold it with pressure up against Juju’s head. The Cadillac went screaming down Oak Street, en-route to the emergency room at Glenview Hospital about eight miles away. Juju’s forehead was really hurting at that point. Can we loosen this rubber band now she asked her mother? The only thing the neighbors could hear as the car disappeared down the hill was Juju’s mother yelling, “you want your hair nice for the doctor, don’t you??!!”
A fog of cigarette smoke was wafting about the nurses station as Juju was escorted past to one of the examining rooms. The wound was cleaned and prepared for stitches as Junene stood close by and watched. A large cloth with an opening for the cut was placed over Juju’s face. She could hear her mother complaining about that kid Randall as she felt the needle with the local anesthesia penetrate her aching forehead. After the drug took effect all Juju could feel was pressure and some pulling. Just as the doctor finished the fifth stitch, Juju heard a thud, then all the attention left her for something happening in the corner of the room. Junene had seen the needle and had fainted, collapsing in a heap on the white tile floor. Spray her with a water hose, Juju yelled!
Juju, her sister, and her mother left the hospital for the drive back home. Juju was pretty happy after all the drama. Five stitches in her head meant she was probably going to get to lay on the couch the rest of the afternoon eating a Popsicle. Injuries like this were usually good to her….this might even stretch until tomorrow and she would miss a day of school! Junene had to spill the entire story to her mother, of how Juju had become wet and bloody in the course of mere minutes. Being five years older she was taking the brunt of the punishment…more amusement for Juju….she would be able to taunt Junene as she lay on the couch, with her Popsicle, and watch as she dusted furniture!
Juju ran into her house, now with a blood splattered culotte set and a large white bandage on her head….she was headed for the refrigerator, thinking about her TV schedule for the night….Ed Sullivan, then maybe Bonanza. Junene grabbed the Endust from underneath the kitchen sink and started in on the “crap cabinet” that housed their salt and pepper shaker collection in the corner of the kitchen.
Juju turned on the TV, changed the big dial to the number 4 for Ed Sullivan, then jumped on the couch to assume her place. Her father walked into the room about that time, looked her way and asked if she was okay? Yes, Juju answered as he approached the TV and changed the channel to the evening news. From in the kitchen she could hear her mother talking on the phone…informing her grandmother of the delay….telling her that they would be over to visit in 30 minutes! Oh no, Juju thought…that meant the Lawrence Welk Show!! The smile faded from Juju’s face as her mother yelled from the kitchen, “now get in here, your pony-tail needs some attention!” Junene smirked at Juju as she walked past her towards their mother.
There she was, standing behind the kitchen chair again, motioning for Juju to take a seat. The dreaded black brush in her right hand…her frustration apparent…spending the afternoon in the ER and now seeing a brand new culotte set approaching her…ruined.
Juju couldn’t help but wish her mother was holding a croquet ball in her hand.
Later Juju sat watching Myron Floren on the Lawrence Welk Show, he was playing a medley of Broadway show tunes on his accordion…she noticed her grandmother was pleased with her attentiveness. Juju wasn’t amused and sat there dreaming about a Popsicle….but secretely would have settled for the ability to blink.